Elderly Lesbians And Breast Cancer Essay

1897 words - 8 pages



Elderly Lesbians and Breast Cancer California State University, Dominguez Hills School of Nursing MSN 533-08 Theoretical Aspects of Aging



Elderly Lesbians and Breast Cancer Cancer health disparities have been documented in specific populations in the United States. Elderly lesbians are one such population, with factors related to lifestyle, socioeconomic status, healthcare practices, and access to services (Brown & Tracy, 2008). There is a pressing need for understanding of the health care disparities faced by elderly lesbians, so that the needs of this group can be ...view middle of the document...

Lesbians are four times less likely than heterosexual women to have had a mammogram.



Some lesbians are also at increased risk for breast cancer related to higher alcohol intake and nulliparity (Barnes, 2012). Age-related changes among lesbians In aging women, frequency of ovulation diminishes and menstrual cycles become shorter and irregular. Hormonal changes also occur, as post-menopausal women produce approximately 90% less estrogen (Miller, 2012). Mental changes, such as sensation, perception, reasoning, and memory, occur among all aging adults. The lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) population undergoes the same changes and dysfunctions, while also facing additional challenges. Currently, there are over two million Americans over the age of 65 in the LBGT community. Of these, over 40% of LGBT elderly suffer from depression (Eliason, Dibble, & DeJoseph, 2010). Aging lesbian and bisexual women have a 1.35 times greater risk of experiencing depression than aging heterosexual women (Wallace, Cochran, Durazo, & Ford, 2011). The Healthy People goals for 2020 specifically address mental health disparities of the LGBT population, as discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide (Healthy People, 2011). Elderly lesbians can experience role changes as normal physical aging changes result in loss of independence. Psychological influences of this phenomenon can be severe, and vary with each individual. Identification of normal signs of psychological changes in the elderly population, so as not to be confused with symptoms of depression, can help to improve quality of life (Christensen & Elkin, 2011). Advanced nursing role promotion as advocate and educator The aging lesbian population is presented with multifaceted challenges when compared to the heterosexual aging population. Public, as well as political, discrimination, combined with



a lack of cultural competency by health care professionals, can create an isolating environment for the elderly lesbian (Cook-Daniels, 2009). Through a combination of problem identification, public education, implementation of evidence based practice (EBP), and advocacy for policy development, health care providers can help to promote a higher quality of life for the lesbian elderly population. Advanced practice nurses in education and advocacy roles can support elderly lesbian patients in maintaining independence and quality of life, while teaching them to cope with illness and utilize appropriate services. Advanced professional nurses can inspire communication and advocacy for lesbian elders by encouraging participation in culture specific groups such as the National Center for Transgender Equality. Provision of optimal care for lesbian elders requires: maintenance of a welcoming clinical environment, promotion of...

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